Four Years since the Spanish Military Police Force Civil Guard Stormed Several Departments of the Government of Catalonia

Last Monday, September 20th, marked four years since the Civil Guard, a Spanish military police force, stormed several departments of the government of Catalonia and the headquarters of the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) in an attempt to prevent the October 1st independence referendum. In response, over 60,000 Catalans peacefully demonstrated outside the Department of the Economy, where the main police operation was taking place, in defense of the government of Catalonia. This peaceful demonstration was used by the Spanish state as an excuse to jail civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, by accusing them of sedition.

Both leaders recalled the events during an interview for “El Matí de Catalunya Ràdio,” and stated that it was a “trap” set up by the State. “We had never imagined ending up in prison due to the events that took place outside the Department of Economy that day.”

Jordi Cuixart said, “That day was a turning point in the defense of fundamental rights. Catalan society was empowered in a non-violent way.”

Jordi Sànchez: “We did what was right in the face of an absolutely irresponsible decision by a judge to allow the Spanish police to enter government offices to try to prevent the independence referendum on October 1st.”

Both of them also stated that the fact that police officers left firearms in a car of the Civil Guard with the doors open in front of the protesters is clear evidence that what happened four years ago was a “trap.”

Jordi Cuixart: “In a democratic country there would have been an investigation into why there was a police car with weapons inside and the doors open.”

Cuixart and Sànchez also affirmed that the independence movement remains active as shown in the last elections and the mass demonstration for the National Day of Catalonia where over 400,000 people took to the streets demanding independence. “The demand for self-determination remains stronger than ever and the sovereignty movement is still standing,” they added.

Jordi Sànchez, who is now leader of Junts party, also confirmed that he had filed an appeal against his 9-year prison sentence for sedition to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the “continuous violation of fundamental rights” he has suffered.

“Dialogue” Between the Catalan and Spanish Governments Resumes after 18 Months

On Wednesday, the “negotiations” between the Catalan and Spanish governments resumed after 18 months, with the absence of Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez, who decided to skip the talks and drink coffee with a colleague in a cafeteria instead. His show of disregard for the people of Catalonia began earlier in the day when he met with Catalan President Pere Aragonès for about two hours to confirm once again his ban on amnesty and self-determination. When asked by a journalist about what he had discussed during their meeting, he said that “the most important thing is the image that I’m here,” confirming that the “dialogue” was rather a photo op aimed at cleaning up his international image and seeking the support of the Republican Left (ERC) for the Spanish budget.

PM Sánchez also confirmed that his proposal for resolving the ongoing conflict was the same one that had already been proposed by many prior administrations for many years: more financial investments. This is a proposal that has never worked and will never do since around 80% of Catalan society is not demanding it, but amnesty and self-determination.

Catalan President Pere Aragonès also skipped the “talks” following the refusal of his counterpart to attend and confirmed that the proposal of his administration would be amnesty and self-determination, despite the Spanish ban on these issues.


The round of “negotiations” between the Catalan and Spanish delegations focused solely on the methodology and an agenda for the next meetings but ended without progress. Both delegations committed themselves to continue “discreet” talks without deadlines, though the agreements made by President Aragonès with his allies specify a deadline of a maximum of two years to get amnesty and self-determination or resume unilateralism. These agreements also include preparations for unilateralism while the negotiations take place.

Due to the attitude of Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez regarding the people of Catalonia and his unwillingness to resolve the ongoing conflict, the “dialogue/negotiations” are doomed to failure. Only massive continuous pro-independence demonstrations could force his administration to take the Catalan issue more seriously. Until that happens, we will continue observing endless “dialogue” without progress, aimed only at carrying out photo ops.

Spain’s Judiciary Head Carlos Lesmes Criticizes the Pardoning of Catalan Leaders

Earlier this week, the President of Spain’s Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Carlos Lesmes, criticized the Spanish government for granting partial and reversible pardons to nine Catalan pro-independence leaders who were sentenced to a decade in prison for exercising fundamental rights during the 2017 independence push.

“It has come to oppose, to explain indulgence, concord in the face of resentment, as if the action of justice in enforcing the law were an obstacle to coexistence,” said the president of the Supreme Court, and insisted that the judges’ task does not correspond to the idea of taking revenge or the expressing resentment. Justice is not and never has been an obstacle to peace, but the instrument to safeguard peaceful coexistence among citizens.”

Lesmes also called on the two largest Spanish political parties, the neoliberal “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the right-wing Popular Party (PP) to reach an agreement on renewing the Council of the Judiciary. However, he has been ignoring calls for him to step down in order to force the renewal, despite the fact that his democratic mandate expired over 1,000 days ago. This phenomenon is not seen in a truly democratic country.

The PP already announced that it does not intend to facilitate the renewal of the council and PSOE accuses them of having hijacked the body. Specifically, a reinforced majority of three-fifths of the Cortes is required in order to renew the 21 members, who are “prestigious” judges or jurists. They are appointed by Congress (10) and Senate (10), and elect their president, who is currently Carlos Lesmes.

Lesmes and the majority of members of the Council are conservative judges with links with the PP and the far-right Vox. Both parties are trying to block all efforts to appoint new members since the council is an effective tool for them to use against progressive forces and pro-independence movements.

Whether the EU will sanction Spain for this non-democratic situation is still unknown, but what is certain is that this situation is only found in authoritarian regimes.

Dialogue between the Catalan and Spanish Governments to Start on September 16 or 17

The negotiations between the Catalan and Spanish governments aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict will start on September 16 or 17. The Spanish government has refused to allow discussion of amnesty and independence as part of the talks. This position on amnesty and self-determination undermines the negotiations since amnesty is the only possible solution for over 3,300 Catalans who are enduring judicial proceedings for exercising fundamental rights, and because self-determination is the only possible way to meet the demands of 80% of Catalans who want an independence referendum.

The Catalan delegation led by President Pere Aragonès, though skeptical, insisted that their proposal will be amnesty and self-determination. The President also warned Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez of the possibility of his party, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), withdrawing their support in Congress if there is no progress or if he doesn’t attend the negotiations – he hasn’t confirmed his attendance yet. This move could force snap elections in Spain.

Division on the Catalan side

There is an existing division on the Catalan side on how to tackle the negotiations. On the one hand, ERC desires to give the negotiations a chance to “earn international legitimacy,” especially if as a result of the Spanish vetoes, unilateral steps are taken in later stages. On the other hand, the socialist pro-independence party, the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), and Together for Catalonia (Junts) believe the negotiations have already failed due to the unwillingness of the Spanish government to resolve the ongoing conflict, as shown by the refusal of the Spanish government to discuss amnesty and self-determination.

While they are willing to sit at the negotiating table due to their agreements with ERC, they also demand that the Catalan delegation quit the negotiations if there is no progress in the upcoming months. “There is no need to wait for two years if the Spanish government doesn’t show willingness to resolve the ongoing conflict.” CUP also calls on the movement to prepare for unilateral action when the negotiations fail in order to prevent “the mistakes of 2017.”

Division between civil society organizations

Civil society organizations have also shown different views of the negotiations. While the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) believes that the Spanish government has no intention of negotiating in good faith, and is simply participating as a publicity stunt as a propaganda effort, Òmnium believes that forcing Spain to dialogue is already a success that must be explored, without excluding unilateralism for later stages if the negotiations fail. In addition, its President Jordi Cuixart believes that the Catalan pro-independence movement should show unity during the negotiations and support preparations for unilateral actions.

To some extent, all Catalan pro-independence parties and organizations are aware that the negotiations are doomed to fail and that unilateralism will have to be resumed sooner or later. As always, the citizens of Catalonia will have the power to accelerate or delay the process. If there is no progress in the negotiations, demonstrations in the upcoming months will determine whether civil society is strong to exert enough pressure on the Catalan government in order to resume unilateralism.

The Catalan pro-independence movement will only have a chance to succeed if civil society is stronger than the political parties and leads the process itself. If strong enough, parties will be forced to follow them.